Depression can be tough to fully understand without actually experiencing it, or if you have a loved one who’s been strongly afflicted by it. Depression can be triggered by life events, and can also have a biochemical component, or both. While the triggers for depression vary from one person to the next (and whether acute or chronic), it’s never easy for the person going through it. Most times, a person suffering from depression wants to improve and feel well, but the nature of the struggle can make it difficult to be motivated.
This is a two-part post: The first part deals with personal depression; the second part will discuss how to support someone who is struggling with depression.
If you’re suffering from depression, there are many possible symptoms you may be experiencing. While you’re the one who knows your struggle the most, there are options that can help — some may take a little more effort than others, but a combination of treatments is usually the most helpful when it comes to depression.
This tops the list because having professional emotional and psychological support during depression is crucial. While a list of steps (such as this one) can be helpful for coping, it generally does not substitute for a deeper emotional process to help get through depression. A therapist can help to process the emotions you’re dealing with, and also provides you someone to be there for support during your struggle, even just as a listening ear if that’s what’s needed.
Medication can also be helpful (to be determined in collaboration with a psychiatrist). It should be known that medication is not necessarily meant to be a fix on its own. Studies have shown psychotherapy to be as effective, if not more effective, than medication. However, especially with more moderate to severe depressive episodes, a combination of medication and therapy together has shown to be the most effective approach.
Believe it or not, the foods we eat can impact our emotions and moods. Different foods can trigger different biochemical and emotional changes for people, depending on each person’s biology and food sensitivity. It’s possible to become more aware with how foods impact you. For help with this, try talking with a nutritionist or a naturopathic doctor.
4. Opposite Action
This is a common DBT (Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy) technique. It’s similar to doing the opposite of what your emotional instincts tell you to do when you know your emotional instincts are working against you. For example: if you are invited out and you feel like you’d prefer to stay home by yourself, and you know that creating motivation to go out is a struggle for you, taking opposite action would tell you to push yourself to go out even if you don’t feel like doing it. It takes a personal commitment to use this technique since motivation can be a struggle when feeling depressed, but it can be a positive and powerful technique.
Going to the gym or for a jog is often a great way to elevate a mood. Regular exercise and physical activity can help decrease depressive symptoms (as well as other chronic symptoms). These also include things like yoga, pilates, and other forms of physical exercise or mind/body work.
Meditation comes in many forms. There’s meditation that focuses solely on the breath, and meditation that can use imagery, as well as other types. Find and learn a meditation that resonates with you and do it often — after waking up, before bed at night, or during the day to relieve stress. Meditation works to balance thoughts and emotions (mind and body), and with good practice can be an effective mood stabilizer.
The list above can be a good place to start for re-building your emotional relationship with yourself. Remember, it is possible to overcome a struggle with depression if you can do your part to seek the necessary help.
Contact Nathan Feiles to inquire about therapy.